Blogs & Opinion


Miles Harrison:

Most Popular Posts:

Opinion Archive:

Home comforts: Miles Harrison previews the Heineken Cup clash between Exeter and Clermont Auvergne

Miles Harrison Posted 18th October 2012 view comments

Exeter have their first home game in the Heineken Cup when they host French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne on Saturday.

Exeter narrowly lost 6-9 to reigning champions Leinster in the first round - and had the chance to draw the game. The Chiefs will have learnt a lot from that trip to Dublin and showed the sort of courage that will hold them in good stead in this competition.

Exeter's Tom Johnson

Exeter's Tom Johnson

The task does not get any easier for them as Clermont is a side packed full of talent with the likes of Aurelien Rougerie, Julien Bonnaire, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Lee Byrne in their ranks.

However, Miles Harrison believes that Sandy Park will be a tough place to go even for Clermont and is expecting Exeter to give their guests a torrid time.

If they had gone to Leinster and been taken apart then it would have posed some serious European questions in their minds but it seems they are ready for this competition. What was already going to be a magnificent fight on Saturday is going to be an even better one now on the back of last weekend.

Miles Harrison
Quotes of the week

Catch Exeter v Clermont live on Sky Sports 1HD, Saturday,5.45pm

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt said after this game that he thought a draw would have been a fair result - do you agree?

MILES REPLIES: I think that was probably right. Supporters from both sides could make cases as to why their team may have sneaked it and, to be honest, I think maybe Exeter's supporters had the stronger case, especially as they were the side away from home. The reaction from the Chiefs' coach, Rob Baxter, was, in part, one of obvious pride in that his side performed as well as they did in their first European Cup game. Exeter have moved on once again which is what they want to do - develop as a club and as a force not only in the Premiership but in Europe too now. That was the good aspect for Baxter but the bad side was that he had to reflect on the frustration of a loss when a draw was definitely on the table. It was one of those 'might have been' days that always leaves a sour taste.

How much confidence would Exeter have got from that Leinster game?

MILES REPLIES: Exeter play with a lot of confidence anyway. They have had some good performances in the Premiership this season, most notably the recent win against Harlequins. So, we saw them go into the Leinster game with the mind-set that they were going to give it a go. But, the way it went in Dublin can only have added to that already high confidence level. Now, they are going back to Sandy Park and will be looking forward to 'welcoming' Clermont Auvergne. If they had gone to Leinster and been taken apart then it would have posed some serious European questions in their minds but it seems they are ready for this competition. What was already going to be a magnificent fight on Saturday is going to be an even better one now on the back of last weekend.

Clermont had a very solid win over Scarlets at home, but the game was over as a contest after Morgan Stoddart's red card wasn't it?

MILES REPLIES: We will never know if that sending off determined just how the game went from that point. It was a very significant moment and you can't go and play against Clermont with just 14 men. You have to remember that Stoddart was in the sin bin for ten minutes before he was sent off - so it was a long time to be without him and that would have really taken its toll and therefore had to have had an influence on the outcome. However, the feeling is that this Clermont Auvergne side at home start to play like that anyway as the game goes on and they gather momentum. We have seen it so many times and my money would have been on Clermont pulling away regardless of the sending off. The fact that they got six tries is maybe down to the extra man but they are incredibly strong at home.What about Clermont travelling away from home then Miles?

MILES REPLIES: I am never quick to use the 'French sides do not travel well' line. If you look at it in more detail you see that sometimes they travel very well indeed. Having said that, Clermont did lose twice last year in this competition on their travels - they lost to Ulster and they lost in Leicester. However, very importantly, they only lost narrowly in those games and that is a key point because they got a losing bonus point on each occasion. Those crucial points helped them get out of the Pool despite the two losses. Sandy Park will be crackling and it will really feel like a big cup tie. I think that even for Clermont the atmosphere is going to feel intimidating and that they will be asked some serious questions. I am not saying that they won't find the answers but they will be asked those questions alright.

back to top

Other Rugby Union Experts:

Latest Posts in Rugby Union:

Latest News RSS feeds

Waratahs v Brumbies: Teams

NSW Waratahs have the lure of hosting their first Super Rugby final if they can get past the ACT Brumbies in Sydney.

ACT deserve title says Mowen

Skipper Ben Mowen says the ACT Brumbies deserve to win the 2014 Super Rugby title after three years of hard work.

Exeter kick off in Wales

Exeter Chiefs will begin their defence of the LV= Cup with a trip to Wales to face Newport Gwent Dragons.

Australia call up Speight

Henry Speight named in Australia’s squad for the Rugby Championship even though he is ineligible for three fixtures.

English Roses

England's journey in the 2010 World Cup and the preceding Six Nations featured in a Sky documentary to be aired Monday

Features

Thinus Delport casts his eye over the Super Rugby semi-finals

Thinus Delport casts his eye over the Super Rugby semi-finals

Crusaders v Sharks: 8.25am, Sat, Sky Sports 1 HD

Sky Sports runs through the highlights of the last week of sport

Sky Sports runs through the highlights of the last week of sport

It's been another eventful week across the world of sport, but again it showed that for every smiling winner there's a disheartened loser.

Super Rugby: We take a look at the six in contention for the crown

Super Rugby: We take a look at the six in contention for the crown

After 19 rounds of rip-roaring Super Rugby action, we are down to six final contenders.